There’s a wide net of ideas, genres and themes.
A documentary about a man who has a massive bonfire every year for his birthday. Check.
A sweet retro-modern animated short about two kids who miss the bus and become friends. Check.
A stress-fueled dinner party cooked by a struggling artist who is mistreated by the people she’s trying to befriend. Check.
This month’s Louisville Film Society Short Film Slam takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for Speed and LFS members. Here’s a preview of the short films that will be shown:
Stewards of the Land
Run Time: 6:37
Stewards of the Land is a love letter to sheep and their positive impact on the environment. Directed by Thomas Wavid Johns and William Hartsock, the documentary investigates how sheep graze on a solar site in upstate New York to help conserve energy, how they prevent fires in California, how they are helping to regenerate agriculture in Texas and more. The doc is both beautifully shot and inspiring. It will make you think critically about something you likely do not often think about.
House on Haunted Hill
Run Time: 3:51
Mixing horror and noir-style film techniques with golden-voice indie-pop from the duo Queen Aster is a shining juxtaposition in the music video “House on Haunted Hill.” The black-and-white video is spooky without being over the top, a ghostly and mysterious trip around a property that seems to have a deep history. Directed by Shay McCleavy and Elizabeth Maines, “House on Haunted Hill” feels like a thriller film created an opening song sequence with the intensity of a Bond film, and nailed it. It feels retro, modern and original all at the same time.
Run Time: 14:47
Directed by Ian Odermatt, Amphibia follows a young man who just moved into a new apartment during a series of nearby disappearances. And he starts to suspect his new roommate is up to something sinister. As good thrillers are known for, the short remains terrifying as the tension builds and builds. The ominous elements make the space between the action — the standard daily moments — feel like a death sentence. The payoff is explosive, but it’s how you get there — how Amphibia never lets you be comfortable — that’s the magic.
How the Twin Towers Were Built
Run Time: 14:29
How the Twin Towers Were Built is an infrastructure story that’s informative, yet still haunting because of the larger context. Directed by Leon Herres, the documentary tells the in-depth story about the policy and construction behind New York City’s World Trade Center, a complex of buildings that featured the Twin Towers, which were opened in the early ‘70s and were destroyed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This is a thoughtful, well-researched origin story behind some of the most notable buildings of post-World War America, which were raised to revitalize business in lower Manhattan, and, upon their tragic destruction, changed the course of a nation.
Run Time: 14:02
Blanch is a tense and dynamic look at a painter’s dream of breaking into an art scene, only to be looked down upon by the people she looks up to. Directed by Madeline Weiner, the short is a dramedy that elevates your heart rate like a thriller through awkward interactions that you can feel in your bones. It follows the story of Rebecca, a struggling artist who is trying to befriend a couple who owns a trendy gallery. After she offers to cook dinner for them, they take advantage of her kindness, and her stress and anger begin to bubble. There are quick flashes that show what Rebecca wants to do, but doesn’t. It’s a nice touch as a plot device, and it adds layers to the final scene.
Run Time: 2:02
Rae Monroe’s song “Distance” chronicles the small, taken-for-granted, everyday elements of life that we lost during the height of the pandemic — concerts, interactions with friends, carefree late-night trips to the store. The song, which features Amy Clay, is a remembrance of a feeling more than a rumination. And it hopes, and waits, for joy. That concept is perfectly matched by the music video, directed by Roy Taylor, which features paper-cut stop motion and line-drawn animation. Together, they combine for a whimsical and meditative look back at a heavy time.
Run Time: 6:31
“Ain’t it funny, in life, you can stare at a light bulb for two seconds and you gotta look away, and a fire you can look at it for hours,” the narrator says in the opening scene of Lynn’s Fire. Directed by Steve Zahn, this documentary follows the story of Lynn Ray, a man who celebrates his birthday in Midway, Kentucky each year with a massive field bonfire that he shoots into existence with a gun. As a subject, Ray is magnetic, with a wild and free personality, a kind heart and an abundance of folk wisdom. The film makes you feel like you’re there, just waiting for more gasoline to be poured on.
Run Time: 1:52
In this lightning-quick retro-modern animated short, a heartwarming story is told in under two minutes — a true accomplishment. Directed by Sophie Osinski and Louie Corrons, Froghoppers is about two children who bond after both missing the bus on a rainy day. Through a newfound friendship and inspiration from their favorite pop-culture character, they turn a bad situation into an adventure. It will make you nostalgic for when cartoons looked and felt like comic strips.
Carrots for Conrad
Run Time: 13:20
After a curse is placed on Conrad following his cruel interactions with others, he fears he might be slowly turning into a carrot. Directed by Jared Kunish, Carrots for Conrad is part psychological horror, part modern-day parable. It features both uncomfortable moments and waves of dark comedy to lighten things up a bit, but how remarkably magnetic and terrifying the absurd and surreal elements are is the crown jewel of the film. It’s a tale of morality, and one that will remind you to be kind to others in the strangest of ways.